There are many studies that claim it costs anywhere between five and seven times more to obtain an order from a new customer than it does from an existing one. Therefore, the challenge for many businesses is how to get more from existing customers.
Assuming that the prerequisite of a solid strategic plan and appropriate customer targeting is in place then the 3C’s sales model can be an excellent place to start. It simply states that it is vital to remember three things – Contacts, Communicate and Consistency.
Existing Customer Contact Details
Customer contact details may reside in several locations. Sales may hold some information, accounts may have more, some records may be held by operations or dispatch and higher management may have closely guarded contact lists of their own. The challenge is to bring all information together at one central point.
At first, this can be a time consuming task with records held on various spreadsheets, on standalone software or systems or simply on the good, old fashioned, business card. The information needs to be collated in some way and input to a central system. Although this may be resource intensive the return on investment in the longer term can be significant.
Store Customer Details
A CRM (customer relationship management) system is the best option to use as a central store as data can be stored reliably, sorted into categories and used directly to support marketing campaigns (see below). Customer interactions can be recorded and the results of Email marketing campaigns analysed.
There are many CRM systems on the market, some packed with features (and expensive) and others targeted at the small business for a relatively low monthly cost.
Communicate With Existing Customers
There are some frightening statistics on why customers leave a business. Service issues or perceived poor levels of service are at the top of the list but over 60% of those leaving a small business state they do so simply because they do not feel valued or the supplier fails to communicate with them on a regular basis.
There are three major decisions to be made:
- What information should be delivered (communicated).
- What is the best way to deliver that information to ensure it has the highest chance of reaching and engaging customers.
- How will the information be delivered (in what formats).
Some form of information (content) needs to be delivered and that content needs to be both engaging and useful to customers. It must build credibility and keep the business front of mind when any opportunity arises.
Creating quality content is a resource intensive activity so it is essential to spend time researching the best delivery methods if return on that resource is to be maximised. There is little point distributing content on every available social media channel if customers are not using those channels. Where do customers look for the information they need to make purchasing decisions?
In many cases Email is a cheap and effective delivery method if a good quality (opt-in) Email contact list is available. An Email newsletter delivering useful (not just pushy sales messages) content can be an excellent way to stay in touch. The newsletter may be constructed using short introductions to blog posts that reside on the company website.
A Consistent Marketing Approach
The value of a consistent approach is often overlooked. Any approach based on bursts of activity followed by long periods of inactivity does little for credibility or customer retention. Delivering content over the long term maximises the chance an existing customer will remember a supplier when the time is right to buy.
Any marketing activity has costs and content marketing can be particularly resource intensive. It is therefore important to deliver consistently to maximise returns. Once appropriate tools and systems are in place the process can be simplified and automated so there can be no excuse for an ad hoc approach.
When trying to get more enquiries from existing customers it is important to locate and store customer information appropriately and to communicate with those customers with quality content that engages and builds credibility on a consistent basis.